Getting into digital transformation: start with internal communication

Digital transformation: Starts with internal communication

The concept of a digital transformation probably sounds equal parts exciting and intimidating. You probably think it’s a way to unlock higher levels of productivity, new ways to serve or interact with clients, and greater insights into the many functions within your operation.

That’s all true, but taking advantage of digital technologies requires the right foundation. We think you’ll find that modernizing your internal and external communication tools is a great place to begin.

Whether it’s a launchpad for additional improvements or satisfies your appetite for digitization, investing here is a great choice that can help improve your company from the inside out.

Automation in project management

When we think of internal communications, it’s either about long email threads or one-line exchanges asking for permission, granting approval or following up to ask for more information.

According to Gartner, one popular focus of digital transformation involves finding ways to make separate corporate functions able to communicate more seamlessly with one another. This includes using chatbots and minor automation to make some low-level communication unnecessary altogether.

A company or team dashboard that supports automatic workflow triggers, maintenance or service tickets, requests for approval, or other bureaucratic hurdles is a basic but welcome addition to the project management and communication toolkit. Some inquiries require instant communication methods, while others do not.

Digital applications and infrastructure that help organize, prioritize and ultimately automate many types of communications from different sources or teams are quickly becoming non-negotiable for modern businesses and automation is quickly proving itself as a key element in digital transformation.

Naturally, the communication tools with the greatest implications for making employee-to-employee collaboration and networking more seamless pays dividends in other ways, too.

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Unified internal and external communication tools

Several services offer unified communication functionality among internet, phone, email, instant chats, apps, social media and even SMS. This can make the act of communicating with clients through marketing, sales, customer service, returns, product support, and every other function and department far easier.

Sometimes communication and project management tools are just one piece of a company’s SaaS portfolio. Others might include data backup, cybersecurity, compliance, network architecture or others.

Starting your digital transformation buildout with communication — something that’s fundamental to the functioning of any organization — and then building a more complex digital environment by bundling services can help make budgeting easier over the longer term. It can also reduce maintenance and service expenses and limit the number of people you need to call if something goes down.

It makes good sense for companies to build comfort and familiarity with inclusive technologies like these by testing them in in-house processes before deploying them in more client-facing functions.

For instance, see what impact exchanging documents, support tickets, text messages and voice calls, all in one place, has on your teams’ productivity or sales success. Then, roll out some of those features, like live chat, to your website visitors.

Convenience and customizability

The ability to exchange information with other parties more effectively means greater potential for product and service customizability.

On the customer side of things, consider the benefits to R&D if engineers and product designers can react to customer demands in near-real-time by making changes to existing products and services.

It’s an extreme example, but remember that it took no time at all for the producers of 2019’s “Sonic the Hedgehog” to cave to the swift and merciless feedback they received from internet-goers. They postponed the film’s release to work on the titular character’s design.

Sometimes, the feedback coming in from the outside world is a lot more subtle. Companies with smaller budgets than Sega’s need a way to make proactive rather than reactive decisions in response to emerging customer sentiment.

Decision-makers need enterprise planning tools that bring together data from communication channels, surveys, third-party marketing data, and feedback from vendors and partners — and then make it all visible.

Companies that learn how to share this rich trove of data among their separate teams and functions will become far more nimble and responsive to customer demands. That includes building a bridge between marketing and sales.

As businesses make their digital infrastructure more sophisticated, they can use machine learning to better understand client interactions based on accumulated communication data, plan more effective marketing campaigns based on what people bought in the past, and more.

Dealing with customers in an omnichannel world sounds like it might require duplication of efforts. However, with the right tools to unify selling and messaging for customers and internal communications and product planning for the company, businesses can develop a culture that revolves around information mobility and customer satisfaction.

A jumping-off point and resource for further digital transformations

There’s another reason why internal communication is a great place to start any company’s digital transformation: Having these resources and infrastructure operational earlier on will make it easier for your business to weather the rest of the process, including coaching employees and managers on the changes.

You’ll already have the communication tools picked out and deployed, and the lines of communication mapped out for when team members have questions or issues crop up. Let’s be honest: There are going to be at least a couple minor growing pains along the way.

All kinds of data changes hands and serves useful purposes within the walls of your company, but a lot of it is close to useless unless you’ve also invested in the right communication tools. The key is to help all parties stay in closer in touch with one another and get more out of each exchange.

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